Sunburned Hand of the Man – Rare Wood

There’s certainly something incredibly powerful going on here.


There’s certainly something incredibly powerful going on here.



There have been many people that have laid claim to the expression ‘Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.’ Now whilst it would be fun to see people critique architecture through the medium of dance, the expression nutshells quite well the belief that you cannot convey music through words. This is obviously something that a music magazine must declaim

most loudly, but occasionally there are albums that come along which make you think – ‘Well, they have a point.’


How to describe Rare Wood? Well, I’ll try again at the end of the review but for now we’ll stick with improvisational tribal psych-out folk madness. Easy Wind kicks things off with garish synths and clanking percussion. The vocals start off as moans but become increasingly violent and fucked up. Guitars enter the fray and drums almost get a steady beat going. Picture a Midwest madman, having a bad trip, haranguing imaginary demons in a shed on a building site. It sounds a bit like that. Gyp Hawkin’ was recorded live – in Groningen, no less. It starts off in a similar way to Easy Wind – lots of percussion, a smattering drums and guitars fuzzing about in the background.


After about five minutes something approaching a groove emerges and another voice – this one clearly in pain – battles it out with a bullfrog. Camel Backwards is also recorded live and features a ‘proper’ vocal for once, albeit one that is echoed, fucked up and genuinely frightening – ‘Out there in the far, yeah, there’s a freelance assassin / He lobotomises

teenagers, you know it’s just his passion.’ Hmm. All this over a grinding beat, shrieks, howls, mad drumming and squealing trumpets. Glass Boot is the centrepiece of the album and it’s a belter. It starts like the rest but a genuine groove eventually emerges around some Klaus Dinger-esque drumming. The drums manage to suck everything into their orbit until some

kind of stoner rock meets Neu! sound emerges. It builds up over fourteen minutes until your mind wants to explode. All of which makes the final track – Buried Pleasure – something of a shock: a three minute finger picking good time stomp with the rest of the band providing handclapping support.


Well, I’ve done my best to give you some idea of this album. Perhaps the band leader put it best when he said that they could play ‘coke rock or clanging bells while someone groans like a dosed goat.’ He also said that his aim is to get people up and dancing and I’m not going to argue with him, not least because there are at least sixteen people in the band and because

he’s been up before the beak for assault with a deadly weapon. As for my final attempt to describe it – it sounds like a bunch of psychopaths undergoing scream therapy in a music room. Oh, I don’t know. There’s certainly something incredibly powerful going on here – it’s primal and frightening, but it’s also vital and ecstatic.



Words: Christopher Dawson